|Larry Thompson (Star-Tribune photo)|
“Taking away my microphone is like taking away a guitar from Prince,” said the 61-year-old personality. “Radio has been my oxygen. Whatever I’ve had to deal with in my life — deaths in the family, losses of marriage, addiction — I’ve always had that microphone. Not having it is going to be hard.”
The Star-Tribune reports Thompson has been struggling with the cruel effects of multiple sclerosis since he first learned in 2005 that he had the disease, resorting to a cane a decade ago, then a walker, and finally his tricked-out chair, retaining his self-deprecating sense of humor through every broadcast.
“Part of his charm is his ability to laugh at himself in a bad situation,” said on-air partner Staci Matthews who will be joined by new co-host Greg “Hutch” Hutchinson, who previously broadcast under the name Brad Steele at Z99 in Mankato, starting Monday. “He can be a curmudgeon, but in an Oscar the Grouch kind of way.”
Finding his way to work every weekday is no longer a realistic option for Thompson. In August alone, he had 21 doctor’s appointments. His swollen feet have made it impossible to wear shoes. The Lakeville police have been to his house 20 times in the past year to help him after he’s taken a fall. Last week, he was finally forced to sell his beloved motorcycle. He estimates that since he got the diagnosis, he’s been stuck with 1,300 needles.
“It’s been a ride,” he said. “Mostly downhill.”
“Listeners are drawn to him because he’s so positive,” said Dave Ryan, KDWB’s morning host and a longtime friend. “You and I might complain about getting too much e-mail, but I’ve never heard him complain about anything. He’ll talk about the MS, but it’s never in a ‘Woe is me’ way.”
Thompson is nothing but grateful for his success in the Twin Cities. Breaking big in radio was his dream, ever since he started listening to Denver broadcasts at the age of 10 while operating the tractor on his dad’s farm in Sidney, Neb. He was more juiced by the DJs’ stories than the tunes they were spinning.
KS95 program director Leighton Peck, who had worked with Thompson in Nebraska, took full advantage when the Houston station let him go, luring him to the Twin Cities.
“A lot of radio people try to be a character on the air, but Moon is a character in real life,” Peck said.
“He doesn’t have that big booming voice, but he knows how to talk to people.”
Thompson is doing his best to be optimistic about his retirement, how he’ll be able to spend more time with his second wife and the grandkids. But his colleagues know it won’t be easy for him.